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I'll put any spoilers under a cut, and I will probably wait until I have completed the book to write about it in detail.

In the meantime, Chapter 8. Even if the rest of the book turns out to be terrible, this chapter is perfect and, by some terrible coincidence, it has come to us at the perfect time. Go Set a Watchman is set in that never world between Brown vs Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act. The bus boycott has either happened or is in the process of happening based on a throwaway line in an earlier chapter, and just as the boycott happened in Alabama, so is the book set there.

This is the South in all it's warmth and friendliness and beauty. This is the South in all its viciousness and gossip and racism. The entire plot of To Kill a Mockingbird is in three paragraphs of chapter 8.

Had this book been released a month or more earlier, the shooting at the Charleston AME Mother Church would not have happened yet. The arguments over the Confederate flag would not have happened, and this book, this chapter, would not be ripping through me.

I am a daughter of the south as much as I am a daughter of the military. I value the history and sense of honor belonging to the highest ideals and best people in both cultures. But I am also, viscerally, a pacifist. My father, who I believe holds the highest ideals of both southern and military cultures, taught me that it was a hard row to hoe but an honorable one. (My mother has stated that she's ashamed of me for being pacifist and made it clear she finds it weak.) In the same way, I am viscerally honest about the horrors of the south.

The southern culture which is romanticized by its descendants was based on oppression and blood. While some of that oppression was of the women in its culture, the fact is most white women were at minimum complicit in the oppression and in some cases were the ones baying for blood. Jean Louise Finch, known as a child as Scout, has moved north and sees this clearly. She returns home to find that those who are still steeped in the south cannot see it at all. It's made clear this is nothing to do with age; it is literally black and white within the culture.

Gone with the Wind (the book, which I read the same summer I first read To Kill a Mockingbird) made it absolutely clear, in my opinion, that the southern planters brought their way of life down around their own ears by refusing to look at political and economic reality. Margaret Mitchell several times refers to the Civil War as a gotterdammerung instigated by the south itself. I have heard, just in the past few days, a South Carolina politician talking about the War of Northern Aggression and talking about the North invading the South, completely ignoring that it was the South -- his state, no less -- which fired the first shots and were the aggressors in that impossible war.

I know this is not my most coherent post. There is so much that struck me. But please bear in mind that there are eleven people in my immediate office. I am the only one who is WASP (two are Hispanic and I am not sure how they identify racially). Within my agency of 350+ people, I can name/number all the white people and only take off one shoe. I see the results of this moment in time that Lee describes every single day. Hearing white southerners talking about the "heritage" of the Confederate battle flag tells me that moment in time which Lee is illustrating has somehow been preserved in a bitter amber.

It must be dissected and disposed of.


Jul. 2nd, 2015 07:23 pm
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[Poll #2015833]

This poll brought to you by my sprained ankle, which had been feeling better until three young children managed to kick it on their way onto the metro this evening. The car wasn't crowded. They could easily have walked around the pole and missed me. I'd have settled for a simple oops.

ETA: And I managed to misspell "too" in the original question. This is not my day.
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I'm tired, y'all. The District of Columbia has a larger population than Wyoming. Wyoming has two Senators and a Representative in the House. They paid $3,828,379,000 in gross income tax for fiscal year 2012 (per Wikipedia. I know.)

The District paid $20,747,652,000.

We pay more in income tax than Montana, Wyoming, and both Dakotas combined ($19,013,215,000 for all four of them vs $20,747,652,000 for the District using those 2012 numbers).

But the death of Marion Barry and the Ferguson protests here (which have not erupted in violence) are getting dismissive comments about our being "like children" who "lack any capacity to govern." If we weren't a predominantly black city, I don't think anyone would use those phrases.

We have more Ph.D.s per capita than Cambridge, MA and three wards with a combined illiteracy rate of 27%. We're trying to combat the latter, but it's not easy. Generations of people who were never encouraged to read, who lost their children to AIDS (one in five DC residents is HIV positive -- per a study from 2011, it's probably less now because the population has increased) and are now trying to rear their grandchildren and, in some cases, great-grandchildren.

The thing is, some of the policies that would help our situation are opposed by a conservative Congress. We've lost our needle exchange programs which is part of our Medicaid (paid by our local taxes; this isn't federal money) because Congress has interfered. Ditto some of our abortion rights. If Congress doesn't like something we fund, they can stop it. They can't in Boston or Chicago or any other major city, but they can here. But we're "like children."


Aug. 26th, 2014 06:36 pm
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I had a podiatrist's appointment after my final Grand Jury Day (Yea!!!). I have had a steroid injected to help with what appears to be a bone spur which is inflaming my fascia. The injection had to go into the foot directly, and the doctor kept moving the needle to spread the injection.

It hurts. I've been told it will hurt worse tomorrow. *sniff*

Ultimately, it may let me finally get off the cane and back to walking regularly -- though I have to wait at least a week to start again and I've been told I should take it slowly to ramp back up.
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An artist by the name of Jake Chapman was quoted in The Independent as saying children shouldn't be taken to art galleries because they can't appreciate the point the artist is trying to make.

Yes, I'm screaming. I loved going to art museums when I was a kid. One of my most visceral memories is of seeing Winged Victory (Nike of Samothrace) for the first time when I was seven. I would beg to be allowed to go to the National Gallery or the Portrait Gallery after church when we moved back to DC, and, from the time I was ten, my parents would let me go on my own.

Field trips to The Phillips Collection or the Corcoran were high points of my school year.

And then there was the tutoring when I grew up. One of the things I had the hardest time with, both in DC and Boston, was encouraging the students to develop their own tastes. Especially in DC, the students were hesitant to voice an opinion because they were afraid either of being "wrong" (in quotes because, while bad taste exists, it's still a personal taste and therefore can't be wrong) or of disagreeing with an adult.

And yet, some of the best times I've ever had have been with preteens at a museum. There was the girl next door who had a hard time keeping her hands off the Babylonian art and tried to touch the Van Gogh's. She didn't care for Egyptian art at all and thought Monet was a little dull (for the record, I like Monet better than Van Gogh and prefer Egyptian to Babylonian, but her enthusiasm was infectious.). The group I took to the National Gallery was fascinated by the Venetian paintings and had some very pointed comments about a nude that we passed. Some loved still lifes, others thought the carved table was the bomb (their word, not mine), and all of them adored Villareal's Multiverse installation.

How can anyone say that kids can't enjoy art? Worse, how can anyone say that a child isn't human yet?

Villareal's Multiverse (it's a little sped up)
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I have a bone riser (a condition that occurs prior to a stress fracture) on my left fifth metatarsal that is causing me considerable pain.

I have a hot, heavy protective boot to wear. Since I still am recovering from the sprain on my right ankle, I'm in a brace, but bone riser takes precedence for which side I use the cane on. To give you an idea of the pain level, wearing the hot, heavy boot on a day with high humidity felt soooo good compared to the pain without it.

I can't take anti-inflamatories as they might interfere with bone healing. I can't walk beyond absolute necessity (take the bus a block from my house rather than get my half mile walk to the metro, etc.) for 3 weeks. The boot is so thick that I, who wear sandals in the winter, have to wear a thick soled close toed shoe with it.

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Wine: Meursault, and yes, I have paid over $100 a bottle for a Premier Cru. It was more than worth every penny that I saved up to do it. Even the ordinary years are worth the prices the stores charge. Other wines I like: Frascati and Orvieto are the perfect summer time whites. Gewurztraminer is for winter. Sauternes with cheeses. And Neuer Wein in the late autumn with a perfectly made onion tart is ambrosia.

Beer: I don't drink it. I won't cook with US beers because they bring no flavor. (All right, Ommegang is technically an American beer, but it's a Belgian recipe.)

Cider: The Normans do a Cidre mousseaux which has all the lightness of champagne and, back in the day, cost less than three dollars (BF 100). Unlike true champagne, it doesn't give me a headache. For a beer-style cider, I love Woodchuck's Granny Smith cider.

Hard Liquors:

Oh, dear. I don't think of myself as a hard drinker and yet I have more in this category than I do in wine. *blushes*

Eaux de vie: This includes grappa.

My favorite is Eau de Vie Mirabelle made with the rich and lovely mirabelle plums. I was introduced to the plums, the eau de vie, meursault, and black truffles all at the same meal, and I've never forgotten any of them.

As for grappa, the variety of grape is at play there. When Lucy and I were in Bergamo, we found a charcuterie with sit down service and requested their meat plate and their cheese plate. We both tried everything on both plates. At the end of the meal we looked at the grappa menu -- they had over twenty different types -- and asked the owner to bring us the two he thought were the most typical and the most different from each other. I can say with authority that Cabernet Sauvignon grappa tastes like paint thinner. Muscat Grappa smells like perfume and has a delicate taste. I love it. Having said that, opening the bottle has caused people to claim their contacts were melting. *G*

Scotch: I can't stand blended scotch, but my first boyfriend introduced me to Glenfiddich which I adored. My current favorite is Lagavulin and I'm particularly fond of the twenty-one year old. Let the dirty jokes begin.

I like gin and prefer the dutch ones when I can get them. Can't stand vodka.

My favorite cocktail is a gimlet.

In honor of the Kentucky Derby today, my recipe for a mint julep.

Chill the stirrup cup, Jefferson cup, or glass. Muddle two or three sprigs of mint and a teaspoon of caster sugar (superfine sugar NOT confectioners) in each glass. Add a jigger of bourbon, mix and then fill to brim with crushed ice.

I've seen recipes that call for simple syrup. For me they're too sweet, and they water down the cocktail. Ice melt will take care of that. You can always add more sugar to taste, but you can't take it out once it's in.

Bourbon: I've tried several, but I really like Maker's Mark.
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This is difficult beyond belief. I love food; it's truly impossible to come up with just one.


Fungus: Black truffles taste like sex. They're expensive and I don't get to eat them (or cook with them) often but when I do, it's a little moment of a very decadent heaven. There are few edible fungi I won't eat, but I have to give special mention to [livejournal.com profile] eanja for introducing me to hen-of-the-wood mushrooms. They really do taste like chicken.

Meat: Lamb has been my favorite since childhood. The first recipe I messed around with was mom's lamb shank recipe. I've given up pork.

Poultry: Duck. Except I'm getting really attached to the mallard couple that are hanging out by the Department of Transportation, so I'm not eating it at the moment. Quail is a good second choice.

Fish: Monkfish, hands down.

Starch: Pasta in all its myriad forms. Yes, I've made my own. No, I've never used a machine.

Grain: Quinoa. Seriously, I just discovered this one recently, but I love the taste and the ease of preparation.

Spice: Cardamom. (Nutmeg is the spice I use the most and I adore it, but cardamom actually turns me on.)

Herb: Thyme. The only one I've tried that I hate is marjoram. When I read in an aromatherapy book that it's the only known ANaphrodisiac (guaranteed turn off), I had an "aha!" moment.

Vegetable: I don't know. Except for bell pepper, I love them all. Artichoke was my first solid food, and my cousin Nettie calls me "her asparagus girl," and okra is a sensuous treat, and...
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Happy Mayday everyone. Today isn't a holiday in the US, but I had a doctor's appointment this morning and a tenant's meeting this afternoon, so I'm enjoying the (rainy) day off.

In my call for questions, [livejournal.com profile] snopes_faith was first with "What's your favourite food? Is there any foods you couldn't eat when served at someone's house even if you sensed refusing it would hurt their feelings?"

Taking the second question first, the short answer is no. I don't refuse well intentioned food. As a matter of fact, there's a post here about getting sick off something because I wouldn't turn down food.

My only major exception to this is strawberries because in the last ten years I've become more and more allergic to them. I can't even touch the plant.

The longer answer is "I hate bell peppers." If someone asks in advance, I will tell her this so nothing with bell peppers will be served to me. If I'm served bell peppers, I will eat around them where possible. Raw bell pepper bothers me less than cooked because cooked bell pepper seems to get bigger in my mouth and are just slimy. Orange and yellow and "chocolate" bell peppers work better for me than red or green. Green is the worst for flavor and texture. *shudders*

But the only food, I've ever refused was natto. My former housemate Lucy's description is "soy beans that have gone so bad they are now safe to eat again." They are sticky and stringy and smell indescribable.

Lucy's significant other, the Professor, is American-born Japanese and every once in awhile, he'll eat natto. Outdoors and downwind.

I'm willing to try almost anything once, though. So when he offered me some, I took one on my chopsticks and tried to eat it. My lips went numb and my tongue reacted before my brain could. It was such a weird experience because my mind was willing to try it and my body was rejecting it.

Favorite food can wait 'til tomorrow.

Questions on food are always welcome. And I think you'll find food is a huge category for me.


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